Grainger and WorrallUK – In collaboration with the OEM and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), casting specialist Grainger & Worrall is working on a type of cylinder block with plasma coatings to reduce the size and weight of engines. The production process involves spraying an aluminum block with a low-friction, plasma metal coating.

GW is part of the ALIVE6 consortium – along with Bosch UK, UPA and Automotive Insulations – which aims to develop lightweighting technologies. “The consortium has been an enabler to us in understanding how to design, develop and manufacture castings for the plasma spray process,” said Edward Grainger, managing director (prototype) at GW.

The new manufacturing process removes the need for cylinder liners, as these are replaced by plasma coating applied directly to the parent cylinder bores. “Developing and manufacturing a cylinder-block casting suitable for the plasma technology has required us to fundamentally re-assess the metallurgical properties of castings,” commented Grainger. “This has involved us exploring elements such the structural strength of the cylinders as well as the porosity and adhesive properties of the alloys to deliver a successful project outcome.”

Grainger added that the plasma coating process “fits perfectly” with GW’s vertically integrated manufacturing capability, comprising computer-aided design, casting, machining, plasma coating, honing and final assembly. The company is based in Shropshire and has a 550-strong workforce.